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Walker urged to get involved in ethanol debate

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Wisconsin's ethanol producers are upset that Governor Scott Walker won't join them in fighting a federal proposal to reduce ethanol content in gasoline.

The E-P-A has proposed cutting the required amount of ethanol in gas by three-billion gallons, or 18-percent. Wisconsin has nine plants that make ethanol from corn. Robert Sather, president of the Wisconsin Bio-Industry Alliance, said all nine plants would be in jeopardy if the E-P-A's reduction becomes a reality. That includes his Ace Ethanol plant in Stanley.

Walker's name was conspicuously absent from a letter signed by eight other Midwest governors, urging the E-P-A not to scale back ethanol in gasoline. They said over 400,000 Americans depend on renewable fuel for their jobs -- and cutting the ethanol standard might cause corn prices to drop below the point in which farmers could profit.

The Republican Walker tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he promised in his 2010 election campaign not to get involved in the ethanol argument. That's because Walker also represents Wisconsin makers of small engines, who've been fighting proposals for higher ethanol content because it could result in damage to their products.

Ethanol's critics also mention that a recent boom in U-S oil production makes the additive less vital as an alternative to foreign oil. The American Petroleum Institute favors the proposed E-P-A ethanol reduction. The oil industry group says motorists are using less gas due to fuel-efficient cars. And they say the market is vastly different from 2007, when the Renewable Fuel Standard took effect.